In Department of Dance, Faculty and Staff

Jamie Kalama Wood is honored to accept the new role and hopes the community knows how much the group has affected her life for good

Haka! Hoop Dance! Huayno! BYU’s Living Legends student dancers have been famously stomping and swaying to the moves of these and other dances from peoples and cultures across the globe for over 40 years. Multiple generations of students with heritage from Latin American, Polynesian and Native American roots have come together to celebrate and preserve the traditions of their ancestors through this unique performing group.

When long-time Living Legends Artistic Director, Janielle Christensen, decided to retire during Summer 2019, there was a dramatic pause in the drumbeat. The questions arose: Who would the Living Legends leadership torch be passed to now? Who could continue to teach, promote and connect on tours as a diplomat representing BYU – and by extension, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – all across the world?

The search was on for the next fearless leader.

Enter stage right, Jamie Kalama Wood! From the bustling dance and theatre scene of New York City, Wood emerged. She had been watching the acting and dancing students from BYU as they did showcases over the years in New York. At a performance a few years back, she felt a sudden pressing interest and a nudge that she could make a difference for good at BYU, her alma mater. She made a mental note and casually waited in the wings, watching for her cue from above.

“I reached out to a current professor, and I was surprised that a number of faculty were retiring from the theatre, music and dance departments in the next few years. The role that I was most excited about was this position with Living Legends,” Wood said. “As I investigated what would be needed to fill this role, it was obvious that my path had uniquely prepared me to apply for this position. I prayed about it. My husband prayed about it. We asked our children to pray about it, and every time we prayed, we felt peace.”

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